Mad Men in Still Life – Season Five

By Jason Haggstrom, March 25, 2012

Frank Ockenfels 3 has once again produced a series of gorgeous character portraits ahead of AMC’s new season of Mad Men. Like the portraits he did for season four, these images are dramatic works of art that capture some of the characters and themes from the show and its upcoming season. After a year and a half hiatus, it’s nice to finally see these characters again. Below are some of my favorites.

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Creating a Poster: Tetsuo for President!

By Jason Haggstrom, December 9, 2011

This week, Akira logothe Large Association of Movie Blogs (The LAMB) is running a contest around the concept of "If A Movie Character Ran For President." The idea is for members to create and submit a poster (or modify an existing one) to match the theme. I don’t typically participate in such contests because my busy schedule prohibits it. But this time, I just couldn’t resist creating a submission. You see, I’m a big fan of Akira, both the 1988 film and Katsuhiro Otomo’s comic series (or manga, as comics are referred to in Otomo’s native Japan). I quickly realized that Akira‘s film’s power-mad protagonist, Tetsuo Shima, would be a great subject for this theme. Below, I’ll walk through the concepts that influenced my design, and then reveal the final poster that I submitted.

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Fight Club and the IKEA Personality

By Jason Haggstrom, July 30, 2011

IKEA catalogEarlier this week, I received my first-ever IKEA catalog. At nearly 400 pages and about a half-inch thick, it’s easily the largest piece of direct mail marketing I’ve ever seen show up at my house. There’s been steady talk about the new store all year. Some simply marveled at the shear size of the building that was being erected. For those who have never seen an IKEA, try to imagine an immense, bright blue warehouse of a building with the enormous words "IKEA Home Furnishings" christened in bold yellow letters on all four sides of its exterior. It’s kind of like the country of Sweden just planted a 415,000 square foot flag right next to the interstate. Some people buzzed about the new store constantly as though the appearance of a new brand in town promised to positively effect the quality of their lives. In fact, hundreds of people lined up several days ahead of its grand opening, not unlike the throng of Star Wars geeks who camped out for the premier of The Phantom Menace. Fight Club‘s Narrator, an unnamed, wispy shell of a man played by Edward Norton, would probably be there as well if he actually existed here in the real world. He’d be among his people. People who had become "a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct."

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Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies Title Cards: 1950-51

By Jason Haggstrom, March 17, 2011

Following up on last month’s post on Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies title cards from 1948-49, I bring you a gallery of title cards from 1950-51. Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll start with the title card for The Wearing of the Grin. While I wouldn’t call this one of the great title cards in the set, it does feature the iconic clover leaves that are so closely linked to today’s holiday. The cartoon itself involves a pair of leprechauns who torment Porky Pig in order to drive him away from their castle and prevent him from finding their pot of gold. Along the way, Porky is given a pair of magic shoes that force him to dance and that eventually chase him through a surreal, Dalíesque wasteland. The Wearing of the Grin was to be the final cartoon to feature Porky Pig in a starring, solo role and it’s a great one. Porky had been Warner Bros. animation’s first major star but had been supplanted first by Daffy Duck (a phenomenon that was even satirized in toon form in Friz Freleng’s You Ought to Be in Pictures), and then by Bugs Bunny. After The Wearing of the Grin, Porky was relegated to the role of "straight man" in pairings with Daffy Duck or the non-speaking, house cat version of Sylvester.

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Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies Title Cards: 1948-49

By Jason Haggstrom, February 2, 2011

I have a real fondness for the title cards that precede animated shorts, especially those found in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. Such title cards tend to feature the characters and settings in painted form which gives them a distinctly different look than how they appear within the cartoons themselves. The artists who worked on Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies produced some of the most stylish and iconic title cards I’ve ever seen. Most of them are elegant works of art that feature terrific design work in composition, layout, and typography (which was lettered by hand!). They’re just plain fun to look at!

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Variations on RED, White, & Blue Black

By Jason Haggstrom, October 15, 2010

The movie RED opens in theaters today, but don’t take the fact that I’m commenting on it to be an indication that you should rush out to see it or anything. In fact, I’ve found that far more interesting than the prospect of the film itself is the variations between the French and American posters used to market it. Where the American posters overwhelm the senses with the iconography of violence and mayhem, the posters in France indicate that the film is something else entirely: a black comedy.

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My A Serious Man Fan Art

By Jason Haggstrom, August 21, 2010

The Coen Brother’s A Serious Man wasn’t just my favorite film of 2009, it also arrived with my favorite poster from the year as well. The poster features a beautiful color palette—a faded away blue sky and Larry Gopnick’s washed out skins tones—that makes the photograph appear as though it were a forty-year old document held on to from the time in which the film takes place. The image shows Larry staring off the poster’s edge—looking for God or maybe looking for the Coens; for Larry, they might just be one and the same. Unfortunately for Larry, the photo he calls home has been encased by a thick, yellowed matting that holds him as a prisoner in the Coen’s constructed world. This poster is a phenomenal achievement in design that replicates the film’s era by way of the nostalgic photographs that often define it. At the same time, the image conveys the film’s theme of looking for answers where there are none to be found. Fantastic.

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Mad Men in Still Life

By Jason Haggstrom, July 23, 2010

Leading in to the Mad Men season four premier this Sunday, AMC has published a series of stunning portraits by photographer Frank Ockenfels 3. His images are dramatic works of art that capture, in the most iconic sense, some of the characters and themes from the show and its upcoming season.

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